Lithuania’s Au-Dessus‘s debut album “End of Chapter” is a haunting, moving piece of post-black metal mastery. Conceptualised as both sequel and conclusion to their 2015 self-titled EP, “End of Chapter” sees Au-Dessus push deeper into the realms of dissonant, unsettling extreme metal. Comparisons with bands such as Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, and Schammasch are natural and appropriate, but Au-Dessus more than do enough to carve out their own niche in this flourishing style of black metal. Jarring, dissonant guitar riffs metamorphose into crushing passages of atmospheric sludge metal brutality; inhuman, tortured howls give way to melodic, passionate singing. Make no mistake about it: Despite the sleek visual aesthetic, this is challenging, harsh music that requires patience and careful attention to appreciate and come to grips with. With “End of Chapter”, Au-Dessus have crafted one of the most fascinating and powerful metal records in recent memory. Continue reading “Review: Au-Dessus – “End of Chapter””
Back with a fairly late review of last year’s excellent record “False Highs, True Lows” by the French black metal band Plebeian Grandstand. False Highs, True Lows is one of the great metal albums of 2016. This raging cacophony of violent negativity is almost too much to take in on one listen, and certainly demands repeated, careful listens with an open mind. The core of this French band’s sound draws on the legacy of their country’s vibrant black metal scene, but despite its concise runtime, the band also explore a surprisingly diverse range of musical textures and forms from raw, harsh noise and thundering beats to drone metal. In the hands of Plebeian Grandstand, guitars are turned into contorted, terrifying instruments; the chaotic, dissonant chords and riffs turn order into chaos and then both are lost to the swirling madness at the heart of this record. This extreme sensibility is compounded by the frenetic blastbeats and unpredictable fills, as well as the unhinged vocal-work of Adrien Broué.
Ulcerate‘s brand of technical death metal is compelling precisely because it challenges so many of the established tropes that have emerged in the genre over the last decade. This New Zealand group are certainly incredibly gifted musicians, and the technicality and complexity of their music more than proves this. But more than this, Ulcerate understand the importance of the raw feeling of an album, and of atmosphere and songwriting. The heaviness has to serve some kind of end: Sheer technicality, speed or brutality can never compensate if an album lacks in these departments. Shrines of Paralysis is a majestic, haunting record encapsulating vitriolic misanthropy redeemed through violent, decadent beauty.
Four years on from their last full-length album Test of Submission, the Philadelphia instrumental progressive metal group Dysrhythmia are treating us to another head-spinning journey of an album in the form of “The Veil of Control”. This is their seventh full-length album, and though the album has a brisk 35 minute runtime over six songs, this disguises an album of stunning depth and complexity. The musicianship on display on this entirely instrumental album is simply awe-inspiring, but their prodigious talent has been honed and directed over time resulting in an album that feels lean and full of purpose.
Legendary avant-garde death metal band Gorguts are back with another masterpiece. Pleiades’ Dust takes the foundational music elements that worked so well on Gorguts’ previous album (2013’s Colored Sands) and moulds them into a very different form. Inspired by Deathspell Omega’s EP ‘Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon’, Pleiades’ Dust takes the form of a single 33 minute song that traces the rise and fall of the House of Wisdom, an ancient library that once stood in Baghdad before it was sacked by the Mongols.